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Repository Site Selection Act strengthens democratic consensus in Germany, says Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier

The German Bundestag today adopted the new Act on the selection of a repository site for high-level radioactive waste

The German Bundestag today adopted the new Act on the selection of a repository site for high-level radioactive waste

"Today’s parliamentary decision re-affirms the cross-party breakthrough the Federation and Länder achieved in their political talks on 9 April. Following our decision to completely phase out nuclear energy, we have now laid the foundation for selecting a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste based on a wide-ranging social consensus. It brings to an end the decades-long conflict over a nuclear disposal site. The fact that it was and is possible to solve a difficult issue such as the search for a final repository by means of a consensus between the CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD and Grüne impressively shows that basic democratic consensus is alive and well in Germany.

The Repository Site Selection Act for the first time creates the legal basis we need to draw up a timetable for our search for a permanent repository. The next task will be to find a site, not to hinder this process. The preconditions have thus fundamentally changed. We want to find the best possible site, and safety will be our top priority: for citizens, for the environment, for nature, and when it comes to storing the high-level radioactive waste for such an incredibly long time. The procedure for locating that site is democratically legitimate, transparent and easily understandable, and will involve broad public participation. That is the only way we will be able to create the necessary trust and the required acceptance. No prior assumptions have been made regarding either the rock formations or any individual sites. Nor will any site, such as Gorleben, be ruled out from the outset. This guarantees that the process will be open-ended.

It is up to our generation to lay the foundations so that a solution can be found to the issue of where to store our high-level radioactive waste. Politics has faced up to its responsibility in that regard. We cannot leave our children and grandchildren to deal with the legacy of our use of nuclear energy. Once the Bundesrat has adopted the Act on 5 July the work will begin in earnest. That is why all those involved must be clear that we cannot rest on our laurels. Practical and detailed implementation of the Act will continue to require cross-party consensus at federal and Länder level."

The procedure for selecting the repository site will be prepared by a pluralistic committee comprising 33 members, including representatives from the scientific community, social groups, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. It will be required to put forward proposals by late 2015 on issues such as safety requirements and host rock-specific exclusion and selection criteria. The decision concerning the individual steps in the selection procedure will be taken in the Bundestag by law, including the decisions concerning those sites at which surface and underground explorations will be undertaken once that selection process has been concluded. A right to appeal the decision on which underground sites are to be explored will be established.

The 26 CASTOR containers containing nuclear waste that need to be brought back from abroad will no longer be taken to Gorleben, but to interim storage sites. A strategy will be drawn up in cooperation with operators by early 2014. A Federal Office for Nuclear Waste Disposal will be established to ensure that the procedure for locating and selecting the repository is based on scientific principles. This new Federal Office, which realises the EU’s principle of separation between operators and the regulatory authority, will be established in the course 2014.

28.06.2013 | Pressreport No. 092/13 | Decontamination Projects